400 new dairy farmers but study says it's not for the faint-hearted
New entrants' net profit is half that of top producers
More than 400 new entrants to dairying will have been allocated millions of litres of milk quota by the end of 2013 under the Department of Agriculture's scheme, which closed last Friday.
The lifting of milk quota restrictions in 2015 and data that shows that dairying consistently offers the best returns for Irish livestock farmers is fuelling the demand for access to quota.
But for many the conversion to dairy has been challenging, with high initial costs and production often falling short of industry averages.
The result has been net profits that are just 40pc of the top producers in 2012.
Walsh Fellowship student Roberta McDonald, who is studying a group of new entrants to dairying, says that her findings confirm that dairy farming is not for the faint-hearted.
"As well as the significant workload associated with developing and running a new dairy enterprise, cash flow can be extremely tight, and there's also the technical challenges," she said.
"Large-scale dairy expansion demands significant expenditure and technically excellent systems which are entirely profit-focused and highly efficient per unit of land, labour and capital," Ms McDonald added.